Start-Up Diaries: Tips for Brits taking on the US

Table Crowd New York

I was part of Digital Mission to New York, and picked up some great tips for UK businesses wanting to take a bite out of the Big Apple and beyond.

Here’s a round-up of the key things you need to know before heading Stateside.


  • Create a US subsidiary - don't expose the UK parent to liability. There's a tax treaty between the UK and the US for controlled subsidiaries, so take legal advice and create the right structure for your business based on US guidelines. 

  • If possible, create a Delaware corporation. You can set up your US subsidiary or company in any state, but Delaware is the state that was recommended by everyone we spoke to on the Digital Mission – you can find out why here.

  • If you want to trade in the US but don't want to open an office there, you can operate "virtually" by using contractors rather than employees, and hiring a mailbox rather than renting a physical office.


  • Expect to add a 5-figure sum to employees’ basic salaries for health insurance - there's no NHS in the US!

  • US employees are more up to speed on (and accepting of) the concept of working for an equity share rather than a salary. 
  • Letting staff go is easier than in the UK, but more expensive. You can give two weeks’ notice if you want to terminate a contract but you need to budget for severance pay.


  • Be prepared to network. People are open to doing business with you but only if you put yourself out there. Go and meet people and make sure you stay in touch with them.

  • Case studies are really important, as US buyers want proof of concept. Keep your pitch as concise as possible (check out my elevator pitch for tips!), as buyers are busy. Use bullet points to keep marketing literature short and punchy.